UA economist: State's job growth to be slow in 2014

Posted: January 16, 2014 at 4:13 p.m.

Job growth in Arkansas this year will continue to be sluggish and will struggle to reach employment levels sustained before the 2008 recession, an economist at University of Arkansas at Fayetteville said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Northwest Arkansas should continue to see "hefty employment gains" over the next 12 months, said Katherine Deck, director of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville's Center for Business and Economic Research.

Deck spoke at the 20th annual Business Forecast luncheon, an event the center hosts for economists to share their insights into the heath of state, federal and world economies. The lecture was held in Rogers and attended by about 1,000 people, university officials said in a statement.

"The forecast for Arkansas in 2014 is one of slow growth," Deck said. "I still do not expect the Arkansas state economy to regain its previous levels of employment over the next couple of years. On the other hand, given the robust, multi-sector job growth of 2012 and 2013, Northwest Arkansas should continue enjoying substantial employment gains."

Deck also said in her address that Arkansas' per-capita income did not keep pace with the U.S. average, and noted that the state's labor workforce has been declining monthly on a year-over-year basis since July 2012, even though the nation's workforce has grown.

But according to Deck, no sectors in Northwest Arkansas had shown a decrease in 2013 employment on a year-over-year basis. She said that overall employment grew at 4.3 percent in Northwest Arkansas.